Fox News relied on a longtime Republican donor with a spotty ethical record to claim that a federal conspiracy case relating to a Washington businessman with a remote connection to advisers of Hillary Clinton should “raise red flags” for a potential presidential run in 2016. The network identified the donor as a “former U.S. attorney” and failed to mention the source's long history of purveying partisan fabrications, including against the Clintons.
Jeffrey Thompson, a Washington, D.C. businessman, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to pump more than $2 million in illegal donations into the campaigns of D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) and several federal campaigns over a six-year period. Thompson alleged that he secretly spent more than $600,000 on canvassers and campaign materials related to Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign. Prosecutors have said that Clinton was not aware of Thompson's activity.
A spokesman for Moore has said she was unaware that he was running his campaign off the books.
On the March 11 edition of Fox News' Special Report, correspondent Doug McKelway reported on the story, noting that “a former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia says it raises red flags for a presumptive presidential candidate.” McKelway then played a clip of Joseph diGenova, who said, “The fact that Hillary Clinton's campaign approached Thompson knew [sic] that they knew that he was a source of large sums of money, knew that he could be counted on like most of the Democrats that he was supporting, he could be counted on to give large sums of money. And it is inconceivable to me that the details of that will not come out.”
Fox's identification of diGenova as a “former U.S. attorney” is wholly inadequate. First and foremost, diGenova has historically maintained a tenuous relationship with the truth. Most recently, right-wing media ran with diGenova's false claims that the Obama administration deliberately withheld military assistance during the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, (diGenova represents a number of Benghazi “whistleblowers” ). DiGenova was also involved in false attacks against the Clinton family as far back as 1998, when then-Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz reported that diGenova and his wife, Victoria Toensing, were responsible for a retracted Dallas Morning News article about Monica Lewinsky.
Fox also failed to mention that their latest Clinton critic is a longtime Republican and a GOP donor. DiGenova and his wife both identify as Republicans and served as advisers to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2008. DiGenova has donated at least $18,000 to GOP candidates and causes.
By identifying diGenova simply by his former profession, Fox leaves the impression that he's being cited for his expertise in the law.